What are the different methods for scanning a film negative?

There are many ways to scan your film negatives, the most common being to have it scanned in the same lab where you get your film developed. But if you’re looking to invest in your own equipment, or simply want to try out scanning on your own, here are the most common methods.

1. With a DSLR, tablet or phone

If you’re feeling a little crafty and don’t want to spend too much on scanning, you can also scan your negatives the simplest way which is by taking photos of your negatives using a DSLR, tablet or phone. Place the negatives with a bright light behind them, and take a photo. You can invert the images and enhance them in photo-editing software like Lightroom or Photoshop afterward.

2. With a flatbed scanner

Experimental film photography with a flatbed scanner by @35mm_marlena

Scanning with a flatbed scanner is a widely-used method for digitizing film photos. Use a scanning mask for the film format you need, place it on the scanner and proceed. Afterward you can also edit your images in photo-editing software.

3. With dedicated film scanners

Photo by @danielacristina, scanned with an Epson V600 Perfection

Using a dedicated film scanner is a cost-effective option if you want to be more involved in the film photography process. Since there are many film scanners available in the market, make sure to take note of film formats you will be scanning and how high you want the quality to be when choosing which film scanner to buy.

4. With Lomography DigitaLIZA Scanning Kits

Photos by @mchlsnchz, scanned using the Lomography DigitaLIZA

Lomography’s DigitaLIZA+ and DigitaLIZA Max Film Scanning Kits features 35 mm and 120 film holders which will allow you to scan those formats, as well as other experimental formats like panoramic shots. It also has a built-in backlight panel, all to help you effortlessly scan your negatives with a digital camera or just your smartphone.

Photos by @vuori, scanned using the Lomography DigitaLIZA

Here’s a step-by-step tutorial for scanning film negatives with the DigitaLIZA+:

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More Courses

  • How to scan my film negatives at home

    Depending on the method you’re going for, you will be needing some of the following to scan your film negatives: digital camera with macro lens or your smartphone, a tripod, a scanning mask or film holder, a flatbed scanner or dedicated film scanner, a light table/LED panel or scanning kits.

  • What is the LomoLab?

    The LomoLab is our film developing and scanning arm of Lomography. Found in Vienna and only available for mainland Europe, you can send in your rolls directly to us at Lomography – LomoLab, Kaiserstraße 34/12, 1070 Vienna, Austria.

  • How and where can I get my film scanned?

    Film processing labs that offer film development services will typically also offer scanning services.

  • How to scan 120 film?

    Like other film formats, you can scan a 120 film using a flatbed scanner, a dedicated film scanner fit for the 120 film format, paired with a scanning mask like the Lomography DigitaLIZA 120 film scanning mask, or scanning kits like the Lomography DigitaLIZA+ and DigitaLIZA MAX which comes with a 120 film holder.

  • Can I scan my film negative using my smartphone?

    The answer is yes! You can scan 35 mm and 120 film negatives using just your smartphone with scanning kits like the Lomography DigitaLIZA Max and our free in-browser Lomo DigitaLIZA LAB tool or by installing a film scan app on your phone to invert and enhance the images.

  • How to scan panoramic film negative images?

    You can scan panoramic film images using a flatbed scanner, medium format scanner, a scanning mask like the DigitaLIZA scanning masks, or the DigitaLIZA scanning kits.

  • How to scan overlapping frames?

    You can scan film negatives with overlapping frames with a film holder or a scanning mask, a flatbed or dedicated film scanner, or a scanning kit like the DigitaLIZA+ and DigitaLIZA MAX.

  • How to scan 110 film?

    There are a few ways to scan 110 film, such as with Lomography’s dedicated DigitaLIZA 110 Scanning Mask, or Lomography DigitaLIZA+ and Digitaliza Max with a modified frame.

  • How to scan sprocket holes and film borders?

    How to scan sprocket holes and film borders?

    Much like other film formats, you can scan sprocket holes and film borders using regular flatbed scanners or dedicated film scanners like the Lomography DigitaLIZA scanning kits.